News & Politics

Reports: Turkish Prime Minister to Resign Over Intraparty Power Grab by President Erdoğan

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, left, arrive to attend funeral prayers for army officer Seckin Cil, who was killed in Sur, Diyarbakir Wednesday, in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016. Six soldiers were killed after PKK rebels detonated a bomb on the road linking the cities of Diyarbakir and Bingol in southeastern Turkey as their vehicle was passing by, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency. The deaths come a day after a suicide bombing claimed the lives of at least 28 people and wounded dozens of others.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu may resign in the coming hours. At least that’s what several newspapers and websites in Turkey report. According to these reports, the PM is fed up with President Erdoğan’s power grabs in their own party, the AKP.

Website Turkish Weekly explains:

The State Day meeting was originally scheduled to take place on Thursday, May 5, as it has been the case customarily. However, in Erdoğan’s official schedule posted on the early morning of May 4 (around 12:45 a.m.), it was seen that his regular weekly meeting with Davutoğlu was moved to May 4.

It was not yet clear which side initiated to hold the meeting a day earlier.

The meeting has sparked additional interest since it comes after a May 3 speech in which Davutoğlu said he “would turn away from any job position.”

In the speech, Davutoğlu expressed anger at the party’s highest decision-making body, the 50-seat Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK), to take back from him the authority to appoint the party’s provincial heads. This board is, of course, filled with Erdoğan loyalists, meaning the president is determined to undermine his own prime minister and official party leader. Although Erdoğan is obviously an AKP-member himself, as president he is officially forced to be “neutral,” which means he can’t participate in his party’s inner politics.

Of course, a little thing called “the Constitution” doesn’t prevent Erdoğan from doing so, but Davutoğlu may have thought the president would at least respect him enough not to humiliate him.

Not so much. As Erdoğan said today while obviously referring to Davutoğlu (who used to do whatever the president told him to): “You should not forget how you got to your post.”

There is no difference between a village head who could not win the hearts of the people in his village or neighborhood and a president who could not win the support of his people. What matters is that you should not forget how you got to your post, what you should do there and what your targets are…

Posts are a means to serve the people. Your hearts and minds should work to serve the nation regardless of whether you’re a muhtar, a mayor, an MP, a minister, a prime minister or a president.

He added that those who have “popular support” (meaning: who win elections) are “invincible.” In other words, Erdoğan believes that he has the right to do whatever he darn well pleases because he won the presidential elections. Davutoğlu can choose: accept that new reality in today’s Turkey, or resign and be deemed a traitor by the increasingly autocratic president.

The only question left is whether Davutoğlu still has something of an ego left and wants to save face, or whether he prefers to function as Erdoğan’s private assistant just so he won’t publicly be labeled a “traitor.” Knowing the prime minister, I’d be extremely surprised if it’s the latter.

On the other hand, perhaps he’ll surprise me and demonstrate some political backbone. Miracles do happen, don’t they?